Training Program a Tool for Improving Agriculture in Africa

January 12, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio — East African universities are looking to Ohio State University to strengthen their Colleges of Agriculture to help improve agricultural productivity, food security and the economy throughout the region.

Ohio State's International Programs in Agriculture office in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences has been awarded a three-year, $799, 651 grant from the Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development to help international students earn their degrees in agriculture-related fields.

The ALO grant, awarded in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), partners Ohio State with Michigan State University. The training program targets Makerere University in Uganda, Egerton University in Kenya and Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. Africa's Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (FORUM), a regional NGO, will help coordinate training activities for the program.

"These are developing countries and their universities still require capacity building and advanced degree training for many of their junior faculty members. Their teaching, research and outreach program will all be enhanced by this type of training," said Mark Erbaugh, assistant director of Ohio State's International Programs in Agriculture.

"You can deliver technical assistance, but what the regional universities want the most are their people to receive the type of degree training Ohio State can provide. With well-trained faculty they can get on with the job of improving their own graduate degree programs. Governments may change but no one can take those degrees away."

Erbaugh said that with the grant, 12 students would be selected to participate in what is known as "sandwich" coursework and research. This involves one year of coursework at either Ohio State or MSU and at least another year of research to be conducted in their home country. Additionally, there will be a series of workshops provided in the region by Ohio State and MSU faculty that address critical faculty development needs.

"This is a way of being innovative and cost efficient," said Erbaugh. "It also helps ensure that research problems and faculty development needs are demand-driven: that they address agricultural development issues of primary importance in the region."

Not only does the training program strengthen African Colleges of Agriculture, but it also continues to build cross-border synergies among universities in the region.

"This program helps maintain the historical linkages between these institutions and Ohio State," said Erbaugh. "One of the missions of our office is to internationalize the teaching, research and outreach missions of our college. One way to do that is to bring in international students and scholars to develop collaborative research linkages with our faculty."

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Mark Erbaugh